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Thread: TIG Consumable Lifespan

  1. #1

    Question TIG Consumable Lifespan

    I'm having trouble finding this in a search (either here on this forum, or via the Google machine), but how fast can I expect to go through collets and collet bodies? I just ordered a handful (4-5) of each for both 1/16" and 3/32" tungstens, but I'm wondering if I ordered enough for the next 2 years, or if I should've ordered more.

    I'll be using the WP-17V torch that came with my PA140ST for the immediate future, will be welding 1/8" (or thinner) steel, and definitely in the 'hobbyist' mode - nothing even remotely approaching large quantity.

    Thanks in advance.
    Everlast PowerArc 140ST

  2. #2
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    That'll last a couple years for sure.

    With the gas lense setup, what happens to the collet body is that you hit some contaminated material and it blows molten metal back into the screen, which wrecks the screen. If you don't do much bad metal, they last forever. Regular bodies last practically forever as well.

    Collets don't last forever. At least not the normal split style. But they take a long time to wear out.

    Cups usually die in pointless accidents, which you can never predict except the chance doubles right before you need to do something important.

  3. #3
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    I'll agree with Paul. I don't really consider collets and collet bodies as "consumables". I have been using a few for at least 20 years, with a few years of welding everyday, in that span. It comes down to how you take care of things. I've seen people that for them the whole torch is a consumable and they have gone through several in a couple of years.

    However, cups, and tungstens do require replacement, although the TIG process is defines the tungsten as a non-consumable electrode, that just means it isn't melted into the weld puddle, at least not if you're doing it right. Grinding down tungstens will use them up eventually, and if dropped they can shatter. Cups are also brittle and can crack, but can also break down and even melt from extended use. As Paul mentioned, gas lens bodies are a little more delicate, so you might want to stick with standard collet bodies while you are first learning. Then you will know what to look for as far as metal cleanliness and quality and how it effects the welding process. Since you're on DC only for the moment, the big thing to watch out for is rust and mill scale. Keep those out of your weld and you won't get debris popping back into your torch. A few companies also make a nice stubby kit for your torch that will let you use the smaller hardware and cups. I've never been a fan of the 17 torch (always used a 20) and planned to replace the one that came with my 140ST. But after going to the stubby kit, I'm totally happy with it. More a matter of what I'm used to, but it does let me prop closer to the weld and lets my hand rest on the part or table more comfortably. It's not a huge difference, as you can see, but I like it much better.

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    Did you get the black round handled version, or the blue euro grip handle?
    Last edited by Rambozo; 02-13-2013 at 05:53 AM.
    Long arc, short arc, heliarc and in-the-dark!

  4. #4

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    Should last quite some time.

    You don't necessarily need to buy different sized collet bodies for most applications.
    you can use a 3/32 body with a 3/23, 1/60, or .040 collet just fine. Saves a few bucks when you decide to purchase a gas lens setup.
    Everlast 200DX
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  5. #5

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    The blue handled torch came with my machine. I was surprised that a 3/32" collet didn't come in the little consumable kit, though. Came with 2x 1/16" collets, a 5/64", and a 3/32" collet body. So I placed an online order, but will likely swing by the LWS to see if they have any 3/32" collets. But because they were pretty much completely out of tungstens when I went by the other day (they had but a single 3/32" tungsten!), I'm not really keen on this shop.

    I held off on ordering new cups, figuring I'll play around with the size-4, -5, and -6 cups that came in the consumable kit, then I'll have a better idea of what to get later. Once I learn what I'm doing, I'm hoping to get a bigger and fancier machine (A/C TIG capable), and then I'll get a nicer torch, probably water cooled, at which point I'll probably start generating the collection of various sized cups, tungsten, collets/bodies, torches, etc. Until then, though, it's just experimenting, learning, and practice.
    Last edited by MuttonHawg; 02-13-2013 at 01:27 PM.
    Everlast PowerArc 140ST

  6. #6
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    Yeah, sometimes the LWS isn't all that useful. I've got 3 near me and they're all kind of bad for TIG consumables. You'll end up with a little stock of your own, but you don't need much in it. After all, if you break your last 5 cup you can still use your 6.

    When I was learning (hey, I am pretty junior! Let's say primary learning) I liked the 1/16" tungstens because they were much easier to grind & cut off blobs of metal. With the size and type metal you're thinking of I think they'll be the most useful: I still use them up to around 120 amps or so. When you get over to AC welding you really need the larger tungstens because the heat load going into the tungsten is so much greater.

    Speaking of blobs, I almost forgot my #1 source of spit back and blobs, which is welding up something hollow and air-tight without drilling a relief hole. You always end up heating something a little too hot and blowing out. Relief holes are easy to weld shut once the piece starts cooling.

  7. Default

    As long as you take care of your setup (don't knock cups off your bench) you will really only be going through tungsten...slowly. If you're welding dirty metal and have to grind your tungsten often, obviously its not going to stick around too long. You may also need new cups eventually if you're welding dirty metal too.

    The collets and collet bodies you ordered are going to last you a really long time.

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